Mike Pence has admitted he was angry with Donald Trump when the then-president accused him of cowardice and mobbed him on January 6, describing Trump’s actions as ‘reckless’.
Pence, who served as Trump’s vice president, told ABC News in his first television interview since the tumult that Trump ‘decided to be part of the problem.’
On Jan. 6, Pence, who rejected Trump’s demands to overturn the 2020 election, was inside the Capitol when it was breached. The mob erected a gallows with a noose outside the building, and at one point Pence was only 40 feet from the attackers: The Jan. 6 committee investigating the riot heard that Pence’s life was in very real danger.
Pence, 63, was asked by ABC’s David Muir how he felt when Trump tweeted amid the uproar: ‘Mike Pence did not have the courage to do what should have been done to protect our country and our constitution, which gave states a chance to confirm a corrected set of facts, not the fraudulent or inaccurate ones they were previously asked to confirm. The US demands the truth!’
The former vice president, speaking at his home in Indiana, paused for a long time.
He replied: ‘It made me angry.
Mike Pence previews his ABC News interview with David Muir discussing the January 6 uprising
Muir is seen asking Pence about his reaction to Donald Trump’s tweet in which Trump said Pence was a coward for not overturning the 2020 election
‘But I turned to my daughter, who was standing nearby, and I said: ‘It doesn’t take courage to break the law. It takes courage to uphold the law’.
‘I mean the president’s words were reckless. It was clear that he decided to be part of the problem.’
Pence, an evangelical Christian who is believed to be considering a run for the presidency in 2024, will release his memoir ‘So Help Me God’ on Tuesday.
Pence has so far avoided criticizing his former boss — treading a fine line while Trump maintained control of the party.
Still, Pence campaigned for Brian Kemp, a Trump nemesis who was re-elected governor of Georgia on Tuesday.
And the former radio talk show host turned Indiana governor might have seen the midterm debacle — which saw Trump weakened and his rival Ron DeSantis vastly strengthened — and decided to be a little more honest about his feelings.
Trump and Pence are pictured in happier times: in July 2016, in Cleveland, Ohio, during the RNC
In his memoir, excerpts of which were published last week, the day after the midterm, by The Wall Street JournalPence recounts how he was encouraged from the Senate chamber by his protective detail.
He said the Secret Service urged him to leave the building, but he refused — he didn’t want to be seen speeding away in his motorcade and give the rioters any sense of victory.
‘We slowly went out into the hall. All around us was a blur of movement and chaos: security and police officers directing people to safety, staff shouting and running for cover. I heard footsteps and angry chanting,’ Pence wrote.
‘It took a few extra minutes to get to the basement of the Capitol because I insisted we walk, not run.
‘The Secret Service team reluctantly took me in.’
He described how his aide showed him Trump’s tweet and accused Pence of cowardice by not overturning the election.
Pence is seen during the unrest on January 6 with his daughter Charlotte, 29
Pence was led to the parking lot under the Capitol, but refused to enter his motorcade
Rioters erected a gallows outside the Capitol and chanted: ‘Hang Mike Pence’
The rioters are seen storming into the building with Pence and others inside
‘Rebels were ransacking the Capitol. Some of them, I later learned, shouted, ‘Hang Mike Pence!’ I ignored the tweet and got back to work, Pence said.
‘My chief of staff arranged a conference call with the Congress leadership. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell pointed out that it was imperative that Congress convene as soon as possible to complete the vote count. Everyone agreed.’
He said he met with Trump on January 11.
“He looked tired and his voice seemed weaker than usual. ‘How are you?’ he began, “How are Karen and Charlotte?”
‘I curtly replied that we were fine and told him that they had been to the Capitol on January 6th.
‘He replied with a hint of regret, ‘I just learned that.’ He then asked, ‘Were you afraid?’
”No,” I replied, ‘I was angry. You and I disagreed that day, Mr. President, and it infuriated me to see those people tear the Capitol apart.’
‘He started to address the election and said people were angry, but his voice went away.
‘I told him he had to put it aside and he quietly replied, ‘Yes”.
Pence then described speaking with Trump on Jan. 14 after his second impeachment trial.
‘He seemed discouraged so I reminded him that I was praying for him.
“Don’t bother,” he said.